Unusual Variable Star KIC 8462852

On May 24, 2017, the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) issued an alert that requested observations of the unusual variable star KIC 84628462. Also known as Tabby’s Star after Tabetha Boyajian (Yale University), the star had achieved notoriety as the “alien megastructure” star. Due to this alert, we decided to concentrate on KIC 84628462 (hereafter referred to as Tabby’s Star) as the main object of our summer research for 2017. We used a telescope and CCD camera to obtain brightness measurements for Tabby's Star. Our results were formatted and submitted to the AAVSO, where they are made available to astronomers and other researchers. 

The Red Dots Campaign is an effort to discover exoplanets orbiting nearby dwarf stars. This campaign grew out of the discovery of Proxima Centauri b, the exoplanet orbiting the star nearest to our sun. In an AAVSO Alert dated June 16, 2017, the Red Dots Campaign asked for observations of Proxima Centauri, Ross 154, and Barnard’s Star from AAVSO observers. These observations would be combined with results from professional observatories with the goal of finding new exoplanets. We selected Barnard’s Star because the other two stars are not visible from the northern hemisphere. As with Tabby's Star, we used a telescope and CCD camera to obtain magnitude measurements of Barnard's Star, and submittd our data to the AAVSO.

In other projects during the summer of 2017, QuarkNet Astrophysics Group faculty and students observed the sun as part of the AAVSO Solar Program, and we observed other variable stars of interest and submitted data to the AAVSO.